April 17, 2019 Newsletter


April 17, 2019 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have officially passed the half-way point in the legislative session. By April 9th, any bills assigned to policy committees that had not been voted onto the floor of their first chamber are now unable to move forward this session. While this narrows the total number of bills that are still in play, floor sessions will now become longer as we move closer to second-chamber deadlines in May. There are several committees, however, which are not subject to these deadlines, and which are concerned primarily with issues like taxation, education, and the environment. As I have expressed in previous newsletters, I remain concerned about the impacts that some of the proposals being considered in these committees may have on our economy and low-income families.

Early last month, the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means released their Balanced Budget Framework. As their report states, “Oregon continues to face a structural deficit for the 2019-21 biennium that is projected to worsen in the 2021-23 and 2023-25 biennia. No matter the cause, these deficits threaten vital services to vulnerable Oregonians, education funding, the Oregon Health Plan, and ensuring our workforce has the tools and supports they need to succeed. We cannot continue to provide the same level of service or meet future critical needs by staying on the same course we have been on for over a decade.” The Co-Chairs’ budget framework, along with the Office of Economic Analysis’ May 15th Revenue Forecast, will set the stage as we work to meet our constitutional responsibility of balancing the State’s budget. I appreciate the guiding work of the Co-Chairs and will continue to advocate for measures that are fiscally responsible, transparent, sustainable, and which meet the needs of all Oregonians.

Bill and Committee Report

HB 3406 is a bill that I sponsored this session in an effort to assist rural communities in developing affordable housing. It creates a process wherein cities and counties with populations under 25,000 would be allowed to waive local System Development Charges (SDCs), thereby enabling developers to build multi-family housing at a lower cost, in exchange for an agreement from the developer not to raise the base rent above 30% of the local median income for a period of at least 10 years. The bill would also allocate $750,000 for the 2019-21 biennium to a new fund within the Housing and Community Services Department, which the state would use to reimburse cities and counties for 100% of the waived SDCs. Monies would be continuously appropriated to this fund until June 30, 2027.

Having served as the Mayor of Silverton, I know that small cities and counties cannot afford to waive SDCs, and continue to meet their infrastructure needs, without some ability to recover those costs. I therefore see this bill as a win-win-win. The State wins in its effort to provide more affordable housing, small cities and counties win in being able to encourage affordable housing without losing revenue, and those in need of housing win by not having their base rent raised by more than 30% of the local median income. Participation in the program would be voluntary on the part of cities. 

HB 3406 received a public hearing on April 15th before the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. Although it will not move forward this session, it is my hope that the discussion which takes place in the public hearing has generated support for its reintroduction in 2020.

HB 3404 is another bill I sponsored this session in order to clarify the situations in which mental health providers are required to report imminent threats made by their patients. In essence, the bill defines “imminent threat” as an intent expressed by a patient to kill or seriously injure an identifiable individual, class of individuals, or gathering of individuals. The bill requires providers, including physicians, psychologists, nurse practitioners, regulated social workers, and other counselors, to make a report to law enforcement officials if, in their professional opinion, the patient has the ability and is likely to carry out such a threat. It also provides both civil and criminal immunity for providers who make these reports in good faith. HB 3404 was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary in March. Unfortunately, it did not receive a work session in time and is therefore unable to move forward this session.

HB 2201 establishes the Veteran Educational Bridge Grant Program within the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs. While this bill was originally intended to be a Bridge Loan Program (HB 2825), the implementation costs were such that a work group was convened to explore other options. I served as Co-Chair of that work group along with Representative Courtney Neron. Ultimately, we replaced the Bridge Loan program with a Bridge Grant alternative.

There are a number of federal and state programs that assist veterans in furthering their education, either within the university system or through professional training and apprenticeship programs. However, even with multiple programs, there are some veterans who do not qualify for any assistance at all. The Bridge Grant Program created by HB 2201 would provide assistance to veterans who do not currently qualify for aid, or where the aid for which they do qualify is currently unavailable. The program also provides grants for veterans who are enrolled in courses of study approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and are eligible to receive federal financial assistance, but who are unable to complete a degree program due to required courses not being offered until a later date. Grants are limited to $5,000 per veteran and the bill allocates $500,000 from the Veterans' Services Fund for purposes of the program.

Oil Train Work Group

HB 2209 protects our waterways from potential catastrophic oil spills by requiring railroads that own or operate high hazard train routes to have oil spill contingency plans that are approved by the Department of Environmental Quality, and by imposing fees on those railroads to fund equipment, training, and the development of those plans. In the 2018 Legislative Session, HB 4004, relating to safe transportation of hazardous substances, was proposed. As the session progressed and amendments were added, the bill stalled and ultimately died in the House Committee on Veterans and Emergency Preparedness. As a member of that committee, I was appointed to serve as a Co-Chair of the Oil Train Safety work group. The goal of that group was to work with all of the stakeholders to develop a sound policy on oil train safety that could be proposed during the 2019 Session. The work group began its discussions in the spring of 2018 and continued meeting with stakeholders through March of this year. Two draft Legislative Concepts were developed during that time, which were ultimately refined and condensed into the sound policy contained in HB 2209. The bill passed unanimously out of committee on April 2nd and was sent to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration. If passed, HB 2209 would mark the first time Oregon has had a comprehensive policy with regard to high hazard train routes.

HB 2264 exempts farm machinery and equipment from property taxation and designates the preparation of farm crops for shipping as a tax-exempt use of personal property. The bill had its first public hearing before the House Committee on Revenue on February 28th, and I anticipate that a work session will be scheduled in the near future. While I recognize that we live in a time of municipal austerity, agriculture is the backbone of House District 18 and our state’s economy. In addition, our state’s land use system places such heavy restrictions on the use of agricultural property that I believe we, as a state, owe it to our farming community to ensure that they have the tools they need to be successful. I am proud to serve as a Chief Sponsor of this legislation.


I am pleased to report that HB 2236, of which I am also the Chief Sponsor, passed the House of Representatives on April 3rd. This bill clarifies the operation of farm equipment at low speeds on state highways. There has been some irregularity and uncertainty on this point, which has posed both confusion and safety risks as farmers operating their tractors may at times cross multiple county lines. The safe movement of farm equipment and tractors on our roadways is essential. As such, this bill does not change any safety markers, lights, or other regulations relating to low-speed vehicle traffic. It simply provides uniformity across all counties to allow for the safe operation of farm equipment on state highways with speeds posted at more than 35 miles per hour. The bill has since been assigned to the Senate Committee on Rules and a possible work session is scheduled for April 15th.

In the Capitol

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. With the arrival of Spring, we have enjoyed the Capitol Mall cherry trees in full bloom. However, one tree in front of the Oregon State Capitol stands out. This tree has been draped with blue ribbons to raise awareness for the issue of child abuse. These ribbons represent the 11,077 confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect in Oregon during 2017. They also represent the opportunity for each of us to honor our community partners who work tirelessly to protect Oregon’s most vulnerable children. Throughout my career in public safety, I have been fortunate enough to work with many of those partners, and I am grateful for their commitment to helping Oregon’s neglected and abused children to receive the care, support, and safety they deserve.

Habitat for Humanity

On March 14th, members of the North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity and Mount Angel Habitat employees visited the Capitol. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with them and learn about the work they are doing to make the dream of homeownership a reality for deserving families in House District 18. For more information about how you can be a part of Habitat’s mission to help build homes, communities, and hope, click here.

North Marion SAC

On March 20th, North Marion School District Superintendent Ginger Redlinger and members of the Student Advisory Council were in the Capitol. It is always fun to talk with students who are eager to learn about how their government works and how their voice can make a difference in the process. Thank you, Superintendent Redlinger, for making this visit possible and for your leadership and commitment to student success.

Bethany Charter School

Then, on April 9th, I was visited by a group of students from Bethany Charter School in Silverton, which was also a great opportunity to share the work I do as their State Representative. Thank you, Bethany students, for spending the morning with us.

Over past few weeks, we have had the opportunity to celebrate and learn about some of Oregon’s bountiful agriculture industries. Thank you to the Oregon Cattlewomen for hosting Oregon Beef Day at the Capitol. I am also grateful for the Oregon Beef Council, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, as well as Country Natural Beef and Oregon Country Beef for their sponsorship of this event and the delicious tri-tip sandwiches that were enjoyed by all.

Oregon Dairy Princess

In addition, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, in partnership with the Oregon Beef Council, brought us Dairy Day at the Capitol. House District 18 is home to eight dairy farms. I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of Abiqua Acres in Silverton last year to see their robotic milking system. Oregon’s dairy industry is extremely diverse. The majority of Oregon’s dairy farms are found in Tillamook, Morrow, and Marion Counties. Some farms are very small, and others are large. Some are organic (about 20%) and others conventional, but all are family businesses. Our dairy producers work hard, 365 days a year to provide a high quality, nutritious milk supply. Milk is the fourth most valuable agricultural commodity produced in Oregon and I am pleased to show my support to Oregon’s Dairy Farmers as a sponsor of SCR 27 to encourage restaurants offering beverages to list milk as option for purchase. A hearty welcome was extended to Oregon’s 2019 Dairy Princess-Ambassador, Emily Henry, who visited our office.

On April 8th, I was pleased to sponsor Bret and Rod Lucich who performed the Opening Ceremony for the House. The Lucich brothers were raised in a very musical family. At a young age, Bret recalls playing the piano and aspiring to be the greatest singer in the world, knowing that music would always be a part of his life. Bret has performed internationally and throughout the United States. His music transcends all generations and genres and his shows are captivating and entertaining. Bret has volunteered for many years to play for the Silverton Middle School program honoring veterans.


Rod Lucich, who I know as “Chief Lucich” from our shared experience in law enforcement, has served as the Chief of Police in Molalla since 2011. He began his career in policing forty years ago and will be retiring at the end of this month. He has also enjoyed a parallel career in music and is a classically trained trumpet player and vocalist who performed professionally in Los Angeles and served as vocal soloist around the Country with Conductor Norman Leyden for over 25 years. His musical talents have brought comfort during police, fire, and military memorial services and joy during times of celebration. I appreciate them sharing their time and talents with us. A video of their performance can be found here.


Earlier this month, I was appointed by Speaker Kotek to serve on both the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, as well as the Council of State Government’s (CSG) Public Safety Committee. The Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee serves as the voice of states on homeland security, civil and criminal justice, immigration, and emergency management policies before the federal government. The committee develops NCSL’s state-federal policy positions. It also provides legislators and staff the opportunity to benefit from the experiences of other states in shaping public policy, sharing best practices, and managing the legislative institution. Additionally, members identify topics for the committee to explore and may serve as speakers or moderators for committee programs. Similarly, the CSG’s Public Safety Committee provides legislators with a forum to discuss issues related to public safety and criminal justice at a regional level. In conjunction with the CSG Justice Center, the committee engages lawmakers in policy discussions and the sharing of best practices regarding issues such as justice reinvestment, prisoner reentry, mental illness, crime victims, and other topics. I am honored to receive these appointments and I look forward to serving in this capacity.

In the District

Pip's Hotdogs

A big thank you to Greg Adams, of Pip’s Gourmet Dogs & Ice Cream in Molalla, for hosting the March 22nd “Meet and Greet” with local veterans. I was honored to provide a legislative update to the group. I appreciate those who came out and shared their thoughts and concerns on proposed legislation. Your views, your voice, and your participation is critical to the work I do in Salem.

Molalla FFA

I would also like to extend my congratulations the Molalla FFA Chapter, which competed at the Oregon FFA State Convention and won 1st place. They now move on to the national competition in Indianapolis this October. I wish them continued success as they represent our state at the national level.

It is an honor and a privilege to represent the citizens of House District 18. I appreciate you taking the time to read my newsletters. Most importantly, thank you for remaining engaged by sharing your thoughts and feedback with me throughout the session. For more news and information, I invite you to view my legislative web page here

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of any assistance.



Rick Lewis
State Representative
House District 18
Oregon’s Christmas Tree District

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1418
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.RickLewis@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/lewis